Miscellaneous Northern Rhônes V: Allemand, Accoles/Leriche, Entrefaux/Tardy, Faury, Ferme des Sept Lunes/Delobre, and Gonon

At their best, 2012, 2013, and 2014 are strong vintages, but there is inconsistency and one has to be careful in selecting, even from some of the best names. 2014 has gotten a bad reputation because there was some rain; it may make the wines a little less powerful than those of the other two vintages, but the best of them make up for it with remarkable precision.

Earlier reviews of Northern Rhônes are found here hereherehere, and here

All wines below are red, except as otherwise indicated.


2012 Cornas   Chaillot
This wine raises a multitude of questions. An off bottle? Awkward stage for the wine? Has Allemand been moving in the wrong direction? I don’t know. What I can say is that I can’t recall a bottle of Allemand being this “disappointing” (a relative term), and my experience with is wines goes back to the early 1990s. This wine is big and broad, but lacks some of the expected depth. The fruit is dark and smoky, as is typical of Cornas, but less formed and precise than usual. If you’ve already bought the wine, I’d wait ten years or so before opening a bottle. If you are trying to decide whether to buy, I’d say that the current price levels make other wines of the region look much more interesting. 13.5% stated alcohol. Lot L 1. 89/B

2012 Cornas   Reynard
Allemand’s Reynard is still very tannic and primary, notwithstanding the fact that it is almost four years old, but it provides more depth and fruit than the Chaillot. There are crushed blackberries in the nose and mouth, and plenty of time is needed here for development. 13.5% stated alcohol. Lot L 2. 92/A

Domaine des ACCOLES/Florence et Olivier LERICHE

2014 Ardèche    Le Rendez-Vous des Acolytes
Some may recognize Olivier Leriche as having formerly been in charge of Domaine de l’Arlot in Prémeaux in the Côte d’Or and having brought the estate to its current high level of regard. Olivier’s wife, Florence, is also a trained oenologist, and they left Burgundy to start this estate. This wine is 100% Grenache, and I confess to not being a special fan of Grenache, so some may like this more than I. The wine shows Burgundian finesse along with depth and power to go with the every-so-slightly earthy dark plum and blueberry fruit. Certified organic, working toward biodynamic certification. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot L MBRDV14.  89/A

Domaine des ENTREFAUX/Charles & François TARDY

2014 Crozes-Hermitage    Les Pends 
Over more than thirty years, I’ve irregularly tried wines from this estate and always had reliably good results. There have been some recent changes that bode for still better: the estate is certified organic since 2011 and also follows many biodynamic practices. This wine comes from relatively young vines (the first planted in 2000) on the slope by Mercurol with white, pebbly soils at the top and red soils at the bottom. The result is a wine with intensity to its spiced dark plum fruit, a round and smooth body, and a long finish. This wine is completely enjoyable now and I see no reason not to enjoy it over then next 4-5 years. 13% stated alcohol. Lot L64. 90/A

Lionel FAURY

2014 Saint-Joseph
This wine is from vines dating to 2007 at the youngest and 1979 at the oldest, grown on granite soils. It features the perfumed Syrah fruit typical of the northern part of Saint-Joseph (and nearby Côte-Rôtie). Typical of the vintage, the wine is not a blockbuster in power, but it makes its marks through its finesse and the precision to its spiced raspberry fruit. The texture is silky, and the wine drinks well already. 13% stated alcohol. 88/B

2014 Saint-Joseph  vieilles vignes 
The vieilles vignes cuvée is from vines dating between 1937 and 1976 — they are all or primarily the vines of Joseph Panel/Domaine des Cheffieux — an estate that was not widely-enough known to be legendary, but that had a tremendous following from those who did know it. Here, you have much greater density and depth with more weight, too. The fruit is darker and not as open at this time, but with more promise for the future. This is outstanding Saint-Joseph that ranks in the league of the very top: Gonon, Gripa, Faurie,  and Perret. 91(+)/A

2014 Côte-Rôtie
This is good, classic Côte-Rôtie with vanilla and mint supplementing the red fruits in a medium-weight, elegant body. The spiciness is due to the 10% Viognier content — unusual because the vines are on the Côte Brune, which normally doesn’t have much Viognier. The wine drinks well already but has the balance to age for some time. 13% stated alcohol.  92/A


More about Delobre is found in my review of the 2012 Chemin Faisant here.

2013 Saint-Joseph    Premier Quartier
This wine seems clearly to be unsulphured, although in the past the Chemin Faisant had been the only unsulphured one. Like the great majority of unsulphured wines, it seems to lose much – but not all in this case – of its varietal character. But the lightness of the wine and its powdered dark plum with minerality and a smooth texture, nevertheless make for an attractive combination – especially with a fine cheese. 12% stated alcohol. Lot SJR13. 87/B-

2013 Saint-Joseph      Chemin Faisant
This is Delobre’s traditionally unsulphured cuvée. Unsulphured wines that are not expertly made frequently have trouble expressing varietal character, not to mention terroir, but that is not a problem here. The wine is light, nimble, and penetrating with dark plum fruit, good minerality, and plenty of nervosity. The tannins are quite fine, making this a most attractive wine for current drinking. 12% stated alcohol. Lot LSJR13. 91/A

Pierre GONON

2014 Saint-Joseph   Les Oliviers  (white)
Gonon’s Saint-Joseph  “Les Oliviers” is from what generally is regarded as the best white vineyard in the Saint-Joseph appellation. And Gonon, of course, may well be the best producer in the appellation, with all due respect to others such as André Perret, below. This wine is about 80% Roussanne, an unusually high percentage these days, and 20% Marsanne. It is opulent, but not overly so, and has enough acidity to give good liveliness to the wine. The wine is light in the mouth with an extremely silky texture. There’s a touch of butter (the wine is raised in barriques and demi-muids) and some spice to go with the apricot fruit, and it all works beautifully together. Certified organic. 14% stated alcohol.  93/A

2014 Pays de l’Ardèche     Les Îles Feray
Well, we can talk all we want about great terroirs and old vines, and more times than not, they are major requirements for producing very high quality wine. But in the hands of certain people, especially those who are viticultural purists like the Gonon brothers, sometimes those factors are not so important. Here we have young Syrah vines planted on some islands in the middle of the Rhône River, not the noble granitic slopes of the big appellations. And what do we get? A wine that may be simple and for drinking young, but that is without any flaw, rusticity, or rough edges whatsoever. The wine is light and silky with dark fruit and a tiny bit of earthiness to add complexity. Certified organic. 12.5% stated alcohol.  90/A+

2014 Saint-Joseph
Here is a lesson for what red Saint-Joseph should be. It is light, intense, nervy, stony, pure, and firm on the palate with mineral, slightly smoky blackberry fruit. The lightness and stony texture/structure will not appeal to those who look for size and power in wine, but then, that’s not what great Saint-Joseph is about. The wine can be appreciated now but has 15-20 years, at least, of aging capacity. Certified organic. 12.5% stated alcohol. Lot L 1404RSJO.  93/A